<
>

Three keys: Auburn vs. Texas A&M

Everybody keeps talking about Les Miles' 46-4 record at home in night games, but how about Gus Malzahn’s record at home? Auburn is a perfect 13-0 at Jordan-Hare Stadium since Malzahn took over prior to last season, winning by an average of average score of 41.5-19.0.

The second-year coach will put that streak to the test Saturday when the Tigers welcome Texas A&M to town in what will be the last SEC home game for Auburn’s seniors.

Key player: Right tackle Avery Young

Young began the season at guard but has since moved back to right tackle, and Saturday he’ll draw the assignment of trying to slow down Texas A&M’s star freshman Myles Garrett. That’s no easy task. Garrett has already set the freshman record for sacks (11), a mark previously held by Jadeveon Clowney, and he still has three games left to play. As a team, Auburn leads the SEC having only allowed six sacks on the season, but Young and the rest of this offensive line will have their hands full with the Aggies’ talented youngster.

Key question: How will Kyle Allen fare in his first SEC start?

It wasn’t that long ago when another true freshman quarterback was making his first SEC start at Auburn, and it didn’t go so well. LSU’s Brandon Harris went 3-of-14 for 58 yards before getting pulled in the third quarter. Allen is obviously hoping for a better performance Saturday, but he didn’t blow by anybody last week against UL-Monroe. The freshmen threw for 106 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The good news is that Auburn’s defense has struggled recently against the pass, but maybe this is what gets them back on track.

Key stat: Since Malzahn took over as head coach, Auburn is 16-0 when it runs for at least 240 yards and 3-3 when it does not per ESPN Stats & Info.

I’m not sure what’s crazier -- that Malzahn is perfect when his team rushes for more than 240 yards or that they’ve done it 16 times in 22 games. Either way, it shouldn’t be a hard number to reach on Saturday, not against a Texas A&M defense that is 12th in the SEC against the run and not when Auburn has Cameron Artis-Payne, the SEC’s leading rusher. Artis-Payne has gone more than 100 yards six times in eight games this season, and he’s liable to get closer to 200 against the Aggies. Maybe then he’ll start getting recognized outside the SEC.